The security situation in the Red Sea

, Berlin time (CET, UTC+1)
Venue: ECFR Berlin Office, Unter den Linden 17, 10117 Berlin


  • Annette Weber, EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa
  • Christian Buck, Director-General for Political Affairs (Africa, Latin America, Near and Middle East) and Special Envoy for Libya, Federal Foreign Office
  • Camille Lons, Visiting Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Program, ECFR

Chaired by

Theodore Murphy, Africa Programme Director, ECFR

In 2020, the covid-19 pandemic laid bare the vulnerability of global sea trade to external shocks. A year later, the Suez Canal blockage sounded the alarm on the Red Sea’s role as a crucial chokepoint for that trade. Now, Houthi attacks on the Red Sea chokepoint show how a new form of security threat can wield an outsize impact on the global economy.

Debates around the weaponisation of an interdependent economy tend to focus on great power competition. But the Red Sea demonstrates the massive disruptive potential of some geopolitical minnows when it comes to maritime trade. 

Understandably, European policymakers are grappling with mounting a military response to the Houthi threat via the new Aspides Mission. But while burden sharing with the US and demonstrating EU military agency constitute laudable motives, real value addition lies elsewhere: addressing the multilayered inter-state rivalry that provides the kindling for the Red Sea geopolitical flashpoint.

In this event we will discuss how recurring tensions between the Red Sea littoral states, states further afield, and non-state actors will impact maritime security in the Red Sea. The discussion aims to discern what role Germany and the EU can play in tackling tensions in the region.